Sep 12, 2020, 5:42 pm
Limited options mean longer wait times for New Yorkers
By Kate Northrop
Players in New York City, and New York in general, have very limited options for claiming winnings since the pandemic hit, but players are increasingly growing more frustrated as wait times pile up with little relief in sight.
With no open lottery service centers in New York City, players who want to claim winnings above $600 in-person have no choice but to travel upstate. Even then, the next available appointment can be weeks or months away depending on the location.
"You win $900, you gotta wait four months for your money," player Pat Ferraro said outside the Plainview claim center in a CBS New York news report. "It's crazy!"
As of today, most locations outside the city have availability starting toward the end of September into October. At the Plainview location in Long Island, the next available slot isn't until December 3, 2020, nearly three months away.
"To me, it just looks like they're just trying to hold our money," Ferraro continued. "That's what it looks like." Ferraro drove from Brooklyn to Plainview to cash in on his winnings.
Other players are furious that privately-owned casinos are open while other state-run claim locations in the city are not. Deborah Armstead was one player who found out the hard way. The lottery service center inside the Resorts World Casino in Queens was closed when she went there to claim $2,500. She was not given a firm date for when the service center would be reopening despite the casino being open for business.
"It's unfair," Armstead began. "Cuomo, you need to do something about this. You open the casinos, and yet we still cannot cash our winning numbers. Now I have to go all the way to Schenectady to cash my ticket."
From New York City to Schenectady is about a 170-mile drive — that's three hours away, making it a round trip journey of more than 300 miles and six hours to claim her winnings.
"The Commission continues to examine how we can reestablish service within gaming facilities while minimizing novel coronavirus risk to both Lottery patrons and facility employees," the New York State Gaming Commission said in a statement. "We will finalize a process as soon as practicable. In the interim, Lottery Customer Service Centers throughout the state are open, albeit in a controlled atmosphere. The Centers accept guests on an appointment basis, with strict protocols regarding personal protective equipment and sanitation required to be observed by both patrons and Lottery personnel."
The Commission also emphasized that there are alternatives to in-person claims. While winning tickets worth less than $600 can immediately be claimed any official retailer, prizes greater than $600 can be claimed through the mail or at a service center drop box. However, there are many players who are uncomfortable with the mail-in and drop box options.
"I just don't trust the mail," Ferraro stated.
"I would never do the mail-in," Armstead said as well.
For now, winners looking to cash in on their prizes must decide whether they want to go on a long drive for an earlier appointment slot or potentially wait months until the next available time closer to home.
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